A longtime EasyLunchboxes fan and prolific lunch photo poster, who goes by the moniker of “ficbot”, sent me a couple of emails detailing the ways she saves money and sticks to her food plan. She’s even converted her boyfriend to toting his meals (he “stole” her black cooler bag and a container a while ago, and has yet to give it back, lol). They’ve found all kinds of ways to pack food for their busy lifestyle.
Need some inspiration for some of those resolutions you may be struggling with? Read on… Ficbot shares how she stays within her budget, and sticks to foods she knows she’ll enjoy:
The right tools make it easy
“No food court for me this month! I’m extra-motivated to stick to my healthy eating goals and, following a season of fun (and spending!) with the new guy in my life, extra-motivated to save some money too. So, what to do on a hell day of a student club, monthly staff meeting and three-hour night class? EasyLunchboxes to the rescue! I normally manage fine with a side soup and a single box (I use the big compartment for my afternoon snack) but this will be a longer day than usual. So, how did I maximize the one extra box I packed?
Note: This little kit took about 25 minutes to make and pack, including the time spent waiting for the water to boil for the pasta and cutting up the fruits and vegetables. Here is how my eating day will break down:
I have to give up my only break for this, since I have a playground duty just before it. And I need something I can eat fast and without microwaving, because I’ll only have thirty minutes to both wrangle the kids (and THEIR lunches!) and hold the meeting on top of it. So, I’ll be whipping out the orange-lidded box and having veggie pasta salad (dressing on the side, to be stirred in at the last minute) and some of the fruit.
I normally have a light snack at 4ish, but since I won’t have time to stop for dinner before my class, that won’t keep me. So I brought a side container of veggie chili topped with sweet potato that I can microwave before the meeting and snack on fairly inconspicuously. I’ll probably finish off whatever fruit from lunch while I’m at it, depending on how long the meeting goes.
We get a break halfway through my three-hour class, and since I skipped my afternoon snack and had an early dinner, I beefed this one up a little: popchips and the tail end of my box of strawberries. I threw in a mini box of raisins too in case I feel like noshing on the subway ride home.
Net result? Healthy, balanced meals, zero dollars spent at the food court, I used up stuff I had at home and I only wound up with one extra container to wash. I hope the day goes as well as the menu planning did!”
“… accompanying my boyfriend out of town for three days to visit his family. This is a four-hour trip, and one we’ll be making somewhat regularly, so we decided to try and reduce our food costs by keeping breakfasts and snacks in the hotel room. This all has to be somewhat non-perishable stuff to survive a car ride and uncertain storage conditions upon arrival (and so it won’t spoil if we don’t use it up) and it had to all fit in one EasyLunchbox cooler bag. Here is what I came up with:
COOLER 1: My breakfasts & snacks
I eat the same breakfast every day, and thank goodness it’s a packable one: I pre-measured my usual oatmeal with a spoonful of sunflower seeds into three baggies and was good to go. I can just add water, heat in the microwave and stir in a snack cup of applesauce, which I’ll pack on the side. Also in the cooler: raisins for two, and crackers for two to enjoy at snacktime.
COOLER 2: Snacks and Drinks
I put the overflow snacks and drinks in this EasyLunchbox. Three days worth of light hot chocolate for me and tea for him, more raisins for two, and more crackers—but a different kind—for snacking on a different day.
COOLER 3: His Breakfasts & Other Goodies
His breakfasts went here: he likes his oatmeal instant, and sugary, so I packed him an assortment. Also packed a stack of graham crackers and some werther’s candy, which he likes.
ON THE SIDE
On the way, we’ll stop and get some snack cups of applesauce (the toddler-age relative we’re visiting can eat these too) and some tetra-packs of single-serve soy milk for breakfast. I know it’s not the most environmentally friendly choice, but they’ll keep if we don’t use them all and a big container might not! We’ll probably also get a few bananas and other easy-eat fruit.
So, not bad for a night’s lunchbox-packing! Hopefully we can use some of the money we saved on having some fun while we’re on this little vacation!”
How will you be changing up the way you eat out and at home this year? Comment below or post some tips or pics on my Facebook Wall I’d love to hear from you!